8-27-1 - Overview What is Sociology What is Sociological...

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Unformatted text preview: Overview What is Sociology? What is Sociological Theory? Major Theoretical Perspectives The Sociological Imagination What is Sociology? The scientific study of human societies and social behavior Study of the influence of social relationships on people's attitudes, behaviors, and outcomes and change over time Study of how societies are structured What is Sociology? Sociology and Conventional Wisdom Knowledge that relies on "conventional wisdom" is often not accurate Sociologists use the scientific method to systematically test and analyze information Sociology is a social science What is Sociology? Natural Sciences vs. Social Sciences Natural Science: The study of features of the natural environment Examples... Biology, geology, chemistry, physics... What is Sociology? Natural Sciences vs. Social Sciences Social Science: The study of human relationships and the social world. Examples... Anthropology, economics, political science, psychology, and sociology What is Sociology? Sociology and the Social Sciences The disciplinary boundaries can be blurry Anthro: Study of the physical, social, and Econ: Study of markets (how goods and cultural development of humans services are distributed) Poli Sci: Study of politics and government Psych: Study of mental processes What is Theory? Scientists build theories to provide explanatory storyline Theory: A general statement explaining how things work, how the pieces fit together Theories explain how and why Data is used to support or refute What is Sociological Theory? Sociological Theories: statements that seek to explain how the social world works Sociologists use theories to frame studies and suggest relationships that can then be tested Effective theories should explain and predict Major Theoretical Perspectives The Functionalist Perspective Focuses on the macrolevel Views society as a network of connected parts, each helping to maintain the system as a whole Each part has a function Emphasizes how parts function to maintain social stability Major Theoretical Perspectives The Functionalist Perspective Manifest Functions: Open, recognized, purpose of an aspect of society Latent Functions: "Behind the scenes" functions Dysfunctions: An element of society that that disrupts the stability of the system Major Theoretical Perspectives The Conflict Perspective Focuses on the macrolevel Views society as best understood by understanding conflict between groups Conflict is not necessarily violent Competing (conflicting) interests Major Theoretical Perspectives The Conflict Perspective Focuses on how those with wealth and power maintain their privileged position How those without wealth and power struggle to acquire it Major Theoretical Perspectives Interactionist Perspective Focuses on microlevel Views social interaction and symbolic understandings as central to understanding social dynamics "Symbols" may include material objects, verbal and nonverbal language... Focuses on everyday forms of social interaction to understand the social world Theoretical Approaches Sociologists make use of all three perspectives Represent "lenses" through which view or frame sociological understandings Each perspective stands to offer unique insights on similar issues by providing different "frames" The Sociological Imagination Awareness of the interrelationship between individuals and wider society Draw connections between personal problems and public issues Ability to view society as an "outsider" Understanding human behavior and condition as embedded in social context ...
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This note was uploaded on 05/11/2010 for the course SOCL 2001 taught by Professor Mecom during the Spring '07 term at LSU.

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